Hello! It was my birthday recently and my love made sure it was wonderful.
Here’s how the day unfolded …
I awoke to find a large brightly wrapped package on the table, and instructed to look at the card first.
It had this excellent print of Amy Winehouse on the front — (Nick knows how much I love(d) her) — that he picked up at “his” store. Valhalla Cards and Gifts is at 791 Queen Street West and if you asked me what it was like inside, I’d have to say that, although I’ve received many great cards and gifts from there, I have no idea what it looks like inside. That’s because, a long time ago, Nick requested that I stay away from it so he would have a place to get me things that would always be a surprise.
Inside the card were a couple of tickets to a concert (which we went to on Monday and which I’ll tell you about in my next post). There was also a business card from a local bicycle shop, indicating that he was awaiting delivery of a new suspension seat-post for my bike. It’s basically a post that has a hydraulic spring section in it, to make riding more comfortable. I’m looking forward to trying it out.
Also, written inside the card was a cryptic poem, “Not so much the thing as it is the act that matters”.
The wrapped box contained a new laptop computer to replace my old one which huffed and puffed and crashed constantly. His note meant that the computer wasn’t really the gift though, since it was a necessity, but rather the act of setting the whole thing up for me was. If you’ve ever had to move from an old computer to a new one, you know how much of a hassle it is to get all your programs etc copied over and working properly. So, now that’s all done and I’m working with an efficient new (and quiet) tool.
Nick said there were more gifts but he needed my help in picking them out, so we would be spending the afternoon shopping on Spadina and Queen Street West.
Before heading out, he prepared my birthday cake, which, at my request, was going to be homemade Cinnamon Buns. He’d already prepared the dough earlier that morning, and had left it to rise.
He then rolled it out, added a layer of melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins, and rolled it up. The kind he made was like a Cinnamon Bun version of an “up-side-down cake”, in that he first added a layer of caramel and raisins to the baking pan and then put the rolls on top. It was suggested that the whole thing be turned up-side-down onto a platter for serving, with the sauce dripping down over the sides, but we skipped that because we would be eating them one by one over the course of a few days, so it was easier to leave them in the baking pan and just serve them individually, spooning some of the sauce over top.
Since they had to be left to sit and rise further after this step, I’ll leave the photos of the finished creation and the verdict until later in the post.
After breakfast, we walked to the first shop we’d be visiting, Lorne’s Coats on Spadina Avenue, near Adelaide Street West. It was definitely time for me to have a new water-resistant coat for spring and autumn and what better place to look for that than a store that sells only coats?!
Lorne’s has been there on Spadina for decades. It is one of the remaining shops on Spadina, south of Queen West, that gave this part of town its nickname “The Fashion District”.
Nowadays, that name would be a bit of a mystery, as there aren’t many fashion stores located there today, however, I remember when every one of the store fronts under the historic buildings that line that section of the street contained dark warehouse-type places where you could find very high quality clothing, which was manufactured in the buildings above and in factories on King Street West. These were the showrooms for clothing that would be sold in boutiques and high-end department stores. The spaces were jammed with rolls of fabric, samples, and things for sale, where you could buy very nice clothes on a budget. I remember trying things on in makeshift fitting rooms that were little more than a curtain hung in the corner.
I give credit to those shops, in helping me live they way I do today. Just out of Queen’s University with an honours degree in Commerce, I’d read a magazine article that advised people just entering the business workforce, to dress for the job they wanted to get. So, I bought a few beautifully made woolen suits in those shops, which I wore as a beginner at a big advertising company. I’m pretty sure that it was thanks, in part, to the clothing that I wore, that got me noticed at a young age and given opportunities that were beyond my experience at the time.
Of course, it wasn’t only the clothes, as it entailed a heck of a lot of work and bravery to climb the corporate ladder, but dressed in my fine woolen suits, that I did. (I realize this story doesn’t tie-in with the life I present on these pages — I took a break from the corporate world a few years ago, opting for a more laid-back lifestyle, but I have good memories and might go back to it one day.)
And, to go over those suits, I bought my first adult coat. Where did I get that? Well, at Lorne’s!
Their website claims that you can “Find the perfect coat (or two) in less than five minutes.” They’re not kidding! With the friendly help of a lovely saleslady, I quickly found two options that I liked, ending up choosing the one that I did because it took walking on dark urban street into consideration in its design. Although it’s black, it has reflective fabric at the wrists and a series of discrete bits of metal and snaps that are intended to reflect light and therefore let motorists see you in the dark. Brilliant and perfect for my needs! I love it.
We were told that the building they are in has been sold — I’m not surprised, given it’s the only old low one amoungst a forest of condo towers. So, Lorne’s, as it has been for the past 40 years, will be no more. One of the last holdouts from the original “Fashion District” will be closing too. I was told that they’d be reopening somewhere else, though.
↑ Looking at the Art Deco era buildings on the north west corner of Adelaide and Spadina, built in the mid 1920s. ↑
↑ From Richmond Street, turned to look back southward towards Spadina and Adelaide. Nearly 19 years ago, I got my wedding dress in the base of the building with the light grey pillars. The shop is now a Dollarama. That building, charmingly called “The Darling Building”, was built in 1909, several years earlier than its neighbours to the north. ↑
↑ Here’s a historic shot of that building, taken in 1921. ↑
↑ “The Fashion Building” completed in 1927, located at Spadina Avenue and Richmond Street. ↑
↑ At the entrance of the same building in 1931, during a strike by the dressmakers. ↑
↑ The Fashion Building is on the right, with the diamond shaped detailing (which are still there today). ↑
We turned eastward on Queen Street West.
↑ A strip of some of the oldest buildings on Queen Street West, built in 1888. ↑
↑ We were headed to the Dr. Martens Shop, where Nick was going to use the “I Owe You” I gave him for his last birthday. ↑
↑ I wanted to get him a pair of those iconic burgundy/yellow stitching shoes, which he tried on a liked. ↑
↑ While we were there, I spotted a pair I liked for myself, so ended up putting some birthday money from my parents towards them. (Thank you, mom and dad! xo) ↑
So, we both have a new pair of Dr. Martens! (See them in the follow-up photos at the end, if you’d like)
After shopping, we walked westward, on our way to dinner
↑ A new mural by artist Uber5000 ↑
We ate at Saku Japanese Restaurant on Queen Street West.
We shared two dinners, a mixed sushi dinner and a Teriyaki Salmon with California rolls. It was all so good!
Then we went home for a piece of cake (which was really a Cinnamon Bun) …
This was Nick’s first try at making them and they were a total success.
We originally thought we’d be freezing some for later, but ended up having them as a snack throughout the week. They kept really well, covered in the fridge, with the last bite being as delicious as the first.
I think this might be my birthday cake request, here on out!
Thank you for spending the day with us :) Wishing you an excellent weekend.
Follow Up : Our new footwear!